It has been quite a busy week here at the Obesity Action Coalition! To kick off this Season of Giving, we headed to Washington, D.C., for a jam-packed week of activities. From engaging with policymakers to advocating for better access to obesity care, the OAC and our Community spent the Week of GivingTuesday elevating and empowering people affected by obesity.
This week was a powerful testament to the impact our community can create together. The OAC Community’s support has allowed us to bring about positive change and elevate the voices of those affected by obesity.
Changing Obesity Policy
On Wednesday, November 29th, the OAC co-hosted an Obesity Policy Roundtable in partnership with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN). During this event, three expert panels discussed opportunities across the federal government to improve the lives of people living with obesity.
The Roundtable featured Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Congresswoman Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-1), who have long championed the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). This year, Senator Carper and Representative Miller-Meeks helped to reintroduce TROA into the 118th Congress. OAC is grateful to have their steadfast support to introduce this critical legislation, but more importantly, their actions to help move this bill through the legislative process until it passes. We’ve waited over ten years for Medicare to expand coverage of obesity treatments, and now is the time to make it happen!
One of the panels was moderated by OAC’s very own President and CEO, Joe Nadglowski. He spoke with the Senate Finance Committee’s Senior Health Policy Advisor for the majority staff, Marisa Saleme, Senior Health Policy Advisor for the minority staff, Conor Shehey and the House Ways and Means majority professional staff, Preston Bell. The group discussed ways Congress could address obesity treatment gaps. One of the biggest takeaways from that conversation was that Congress is, in fact, shifting its perspective around obesity and that our advocates should continue raising their voices, bringing attention to the importance of comprehensive obesity care and sharing their lived experiences so legislation can be pushed over the finish line.
“One of the biggest takeaways from that conversation was that Congress is, in fact, shifting its perspective around obesity and that our advocates should continue raising their voices, bringing attention to the importance of comprehensive obesity care and sharing their lived experiences so legislation can be pushed over the finish line.”
The other panels featured leaders from multiple federal government agencies, like the Veterans Health Administration, Office of Personnel Management, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Remarks focused on large-scale models offering obesity care coverage, as well as opportunities and barriers to reach more people.
OAC in Action on Capitol Hill
To continue GivingTuesday Week, on Thursday, November 30th, 18 OAC Advocates headed to Capitol Hill to meet with over 30 lawmakers. OAC Advocates shared their perspectives as patients who have been denied access to obesity care.
OAC’s GivingTuesday and Advocacy Action by the Numbers:
- 18 OAC Advocates
- 32 meetings with Senators and Representatives from 16 states
- OAC supporters donated over $1,800 to help us continue this important work
OAC’s advocates made the case that since obesity is a disease, everyone affected should be treated with the same dignity and respect afforded to their peers with other diseases. Patients and their healthcare providers should have the opportunity to determine the treatment path that works best for them and is free of hurdles, including cost and insurance coverage. Congress has the opportunity to make this change for Medicare recipients, which we expect will trickle down to even more health plans moving forward.
The advocates asked each lawmaker to co-sponsor the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA), a bipartisan bill that will give Medicare-eligible Americans greater access to obesity healthcare services, treatments and providers. Congress must take immediate steps to prioritize obesity treatment. Currently, this bill has Congressional support from 51 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and 18 in the Senate, and after our conversations on the Hill paired with the actions our advocates took in the OAC Action Center this week, we anticipate even more support coming soon!
Shifting the Narrative on Obesity
In order to see real progress in our advocacy goals of expanding access to care and stopping weight bias, we know that the narrative and public perceptions of obesity have to change. This week, OAC’s former OAC Board Member Ted Kyle, current Board Member Liz Paul, and young OAC advocates also participated in a workshop hosted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) discussing ways that medications can be another tool to help children in their journey to improved health. In addition, OAC’s Immediate-past Board Chair, Patty Nece, presented to the National Academy of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, sharing her perspective on how nutrition and obesity care go hand-in-hand as one part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
The Power of Change, The Power of You
But the hard work doesn’t stop there! While GivingTuesday may be over, OAC is keeping the momentum going strong through the end of the year, focusing on ‘The Power of Change, The Power of You.’ Our advocacy efforts are just one of the ways the OAC is driving change for people with obesity, but the power of OAC lies within YOU. Your involvement matters every day, not just on special occasions.
We are thankful for the amazing support we received from our Community during the week of GivingTuesday! Your dedication and generosity are driving forces behind the OAC’s mission, and we can’t thank you enough for being part of this global movement for positive change.
You can still join us in unleashing ‘The Power of Change, the Power of You.’ Your donation is more than just a financial contribution. It’s an investment in the changing of lives, the reshaping of health policies and the empowerment of countless individuals. Together, we can continue to make a profound impact on the lives of millions of people affected by obesity and work towards a healthier world for all.